Accents & Illuminations Newsletter – July 2020
Below is our Quarterly update from July 2020.
Violin students and siblings Wacheke, Mukuhi, and Wangari strike a pose. Read more about their musical family on our blog.
Walker|West Accents & Illuminations
Powering through with Music
We’ve made several major changes since early spring, specifically moving to virtual programming. In addition to the disruption of the global COVID-19 pandemic, we have also been processing the tragedy of George Floyd and subsequent events, and we have felt deep mourning with our shared communities.
Walker|West strives to maintain spaces that promote strength and healing. We miss our in-person classes, as well as the joy and laughter they come with. However, the feeling of togetherness and commitment to music learning is the same, even if through a computer or a phone. Thanks to the resilience of our instructors, staff, and students, and with your support, we have continued to provide music education to all.
With this quarterly newsletter, we’ll provide updates on what we’ve been working on since April, and an exciting preview of what’s to come.
Keep scrolling to catch up with Walker|West!
Walker|West would like to give a special thanks to our funding partners. Donor and foundation support allows us to continue (and increase) music education access for our students.
Here’s a look at some of the major support we have received this quarter:
FS Foundation has been a true partner with Walker|West, initially supporting our older adult program, providing COVID-19 funding to expand our partnership with MacPhail Center for Music Learning and Twin Cities Jazz Fest. Now, they’ve extended their support for our summer youth programming and other youth engagement programs.
Youthprise funded us again in the spring, to assist with COVID-19 impacts to our general operating budget. Youthprise has been a partner for many different aspects of our work, including the Minnesota AfterSchool Advance program which provides funding for afterschool and summer activities for Minnesota Families.
Harlan Boss Foundation For the Arts has extended their support for the second year of our Rondo Community Music Series. This well-attended series debuted last fall and will be returning in a virtual format this September.
US Small Business Administration funding was a new option for us, in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, helping us to cover general operating funds during this challenging time.
To make a major gift contact Braxton Haulcy, Executive Director (email@example.com)
To join our giving community as an individual or monthly donor visit our website: walkerwest.org/our-music-school-community/how-to-donate/
Walker|West Capital Campaign – Coming Soon
We’re preparing for a new capital campaign with our ‘Walker|West Without Walls’ initiative. Join us as we grow our capacity to serve more students, virtually and in-person, increase our enrollment, and build our plan for an updated facility.
We are currently working on surveying our faculty to assess our capacity for offering (some) in-person learning. We will also be sending a survey to our current families* to get a feel for comfort levels and interest for in-person vs. continued (or increased) remote learning.
We will follow guidance from the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), with consideration to guidance from Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS), the National Federation of State High School Association (NFHS), and the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) to make our decisions.
Updates will be shared on our website, via social media, and email updates like this. If you would like to become a volunteer member of the reopening planning team, please email Tonya Gregory, Program Director (firstname.lastname@example.org).
In the meantime, our virtual lessons and programming will continue! Keep scrolling to learn more about what we’ve been doing online.
*‘Current families’ are students enrolled for the 2019-2020 academic year and 2020 summer programming and lessons.
Our reality is virtual
We have been hard at work finding new ways to continue music instruction. Here’s how we’ve adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic:
Here at Walker|West, we are accustomed to in-person instruction and learning. With the onset of COVID-19, what we had always done needed to be changed to better serve staff and students safely and appropriately. We saw some dips in enrollment in the beginning of the crisis, and continue to think through innovative ways to serve! With the help of our resilient staff and instructors, we adjusted accordingly with lots of success for our local families in the metro.
Though we are rooted in the Summit-University and Historic Rondo community, thanks to going virtual, our reach is now nationwide! Students can enroll from anywhere, and have done just that! Walker|West Co-Founder Grant West, has been teaching students in different parts of the US, from home.
In Early summer families, instructors, and staff performances from our strings and piano programs this summer via ZOOM and Skype.
Students and viewers were very satisfied with the ease of the event. They found it to be organized, and there were viewers from the Twin Cities, Boston, and Chicago! The feeling of being live and in person was missed, but the transition to virtual is appreciated and well received.
Here is what community member and Walker|West parent Kenna Cottman had to say:
“The online piano recital was a great experience for my son Ebrima. He said it went perfectly. My whole family was able to participate in different ways even though we all had different things going on, so it really was great. I want to really commend you for making this distance-learning really work. I’m really happy with the Skype lessons, I’m really happy with our continued participation with Walker|West. Just keep up the good work!”
We’ve been posting about our virtual lessons and recitals online – follow us on social media for more.
“Drums. Music. Life.” Podcast
Sponsored by Walker|West and created by Kevin Washington (dedicated Walker|West Teaching & Performing Artist), this bi-weekly program is here with passion and purpose.
The podcast explores music as a powerful healing agent. Hear Kevin and his family share musical performances and rich cultural history, while highlighting how music is instrumental in positive mental health, especially within the African American experience.
“Drums. Music. Life.” is available now on Buzzsprout, Google Podcasts, Spotify and Apple Music.
Walker|West Without Walls – At Home
The ‘At Home’ series is an extension of the Walker|West Without Walls initiative spotlighting members of our community outside 760 Selby Avenue.
In this photo series posted on our social media, we embark on a journey together, documenting what it’s like to learn outside of the ‘normal’ we came to know. It seems especially relevant now, since gathering is such a crucial aspect of community. It’s a way to stay connected. We embrace change, and it only brings us closer – even as we may be physically distant.
Follow us on social media & join our mailing list for regular updates on programming, performances, students & teaching/performing artists.
Virtual Older Adult Programming
Working with students of all ages is an important element to the integrity of our organization.
Groups like our Amazing Grace Chorus who were featured on Kare-11 last summer, provide moments of learning and connection for treasured members of our community. With safety as priority, we made the difficult decision to change the layout of our older adult programming during the beginning stages of the encouraged self-quarantine and subsequent MN Stay at Home Order. We created a pilot program for new students with free 30 minute online lessons with our instructors in piano, woodwinds, brass, percussion, guitar and voice.
Existing older adult students (ages 55+) were able to convert in-person lessons to virtual lessons. Here’s what two of our older adult students had to say about their experience when they moved to remote lessons:
Start your lessons with Walker|West. We take great pride in serving students of all ages in our music learning community. You too can join – by enrolling now, via google form:
- New students start here with a free trial lesson: bit.ly/ww30minlesson
- Returning students sign up here: bit.ly/wwreturningstudents
For questions contact Student Services: 651-224-2929 or email@example.com
Meet the Walker|West Marketing Team
|W|W Marketing team from left to right: Courtney, Benny, Genesia & Shaunte|
Have you noticed anything different?
We wish to keep our community of supporters up to date on the excellence of our organization. Communication and promotion is imperative in ensuring you know exactly what’s going on, can stay connected, and get involved!
Meet the Walker|West Marketing Team!
- Courtney White – Marketing Team Leader
- Benny Moreno – Social Media Manager
- Genesia Williams – Design & Strategy Manager
- Shaunte’ Douglas – Communications Consultant
Special Thank you to Joan Nyberg
Joan has helped to build the foundation and structures that are used to elevate the Walker|West brand and communicate with our students and families, community and supporters. While Joan has recently retired from the Walker|West team, we are grateful for her contributions helping us grow through (marketing) music.
Jamming through a Global Health Pandemic
COVID-19 created new challenges for all of us, but nothing that we can’t navigate through. These challenging times have pushed us to innovate and find new ways to gather, grow and explore!
Here’s how our teaching and performing artists are enriching the virtual performance space:
Rondo Community Music Series (returning this fall)
The Rondo Community Music Series wrapped up in late winter with outstanding performances by Ashley Dubose, the Kevin Washington Quintet; Robert Robinson, Debbie Duncan and William Duncan, and DeSean Jones.
An appreciative audience packed the house at Walker|West Music Academy for every performance. This year we remain dedicated to bringing you hope, healing and joy through the power of music. We’re excited to be returning this fall with our 2020 line-up, beginning this September.
The Rondo Community Music Series is being changed to virtual music performances so that potential audiences can continue social distancing protocols. We have created RONDO COMMUNITY MUSIC LIVE, a platform that will bring live performances into audience’s homes.
Be sure to follow us on social media so you don’t miss a beat!
Twin Cities Jazz Fest Live on Crowdcast
This virtual format showcased the live music you love with artists that are the best of the best.
Jazz Fest Live was presented by AARP Minnesota and supported by the Minnesota State Arts Board, St. Paul Cultural STAR, NEA, HIWAY Federal Credit Union, RBC Wealth Management, and JAZZ88. Several of our Teaching Performing artists and alums were featured performers!
Walker|West performers for the series were:
- Aja Parham with Kayvesh Kaviraj
- Tom West and Grant West
- Debbie Duncan and Mr. Duncan
- Jordan Anderson
Music Education Fosters Success
Music education has benefits in the classroom, in the boardroom, and in life. Our students, no matter their age are enriched by what they learn with us.
See the impact of Walker|West Music Academy:
Image courtesy of Amber Woodhouse.
Former students like Amber Woodhouse live out the cultural and community roots that are at the core of our music tradition.
Though based in Nashville, TN Woodhouse attended Walker|West as a high school student a number of years ago. She is a multidisciplinary artist featured on NPR’s “10 Nashville Artists To Add To Your Playlists” who recently told Rolling Stone Magazine she has had enough. Speaking out against rampant injustices like that of the killing of George Floyd, with her new piece “A Message From One Of Your Black Friends.”
2020 Founder’s Award Recipient
Congratulations to the winner of the 2020 Walker|West Founders Award, Ariam Hashel!
Every year, we ask our instructors to nominate a student that has shown and proven dedication to the mission of Walker|West Music academy. The winner exemplifies gathering, exploring and growing through music. Read more about Ariam and the other graduating seniors on our blog.
Music Healing Scholarships
We know that during these trying times, one way to pursue healing is through the power of music.
In partnership with MacPhail School of Music and the Twin Cities Jazz Fest we offered a month’s worth of weekly lessons for students ages 5 – 18. Students with some prior music training are receiving lessons in piano, organ, bass, drum, woodwind, brass, guitar, violin, viola and voice.
Our Music healing scholarships opened up access for 15 students to begin or continue their music learning journeys. Then, with support from the FS Foundation, the 4 weeks of free 30-minute lessons was extended to 50 weeks. That’s a whole year of vital music education.
Your support helps more students impact the world around them, like Ariam, Amber, and our Music Healing scholars.
Providing affordable and of high quality music education ensures students reach their fullest potential. With the availability of tuition assistance, anyone can reach their goals. As this July 2020 edition of ‘Accents and Illuminations’ is wrapping up, keep going to hear all the ways to engage with our work!
The Future Is Now
Together we can grow the work of Walker|West. Check out our new ways of connecting to find what you enjoy. Share with your family and friends so our mission can continue to thrive.
Make a gift of any size to support our programming.
Individual donors, whether one-time or monthly, allow us to provide tuition assistance for families, grow our general operating budget, and cover staff and instructor costs.
Sign up for music lessons with our talented instructors.
We serve students of all ages, across a range of genres and instruments. There’s a program for you, your family, and your friends to explore.
Be a Walker|West Ambassador – Share our stories!
We’re increasing our storytelling power with our expanded marketing team. Follow us on social media and subscribe to our newsletter to get regular updates from us. When you see an interesting story from us, feel free to share with people you know!
Thank you for your continued support of Walker|West.